Road Trip 2019 In 1995, I visited the Russian nuclear weapons city of Sarov. Here, I’m showing a copy of the newspaper where I worked at the time, the Los Alamos Monitor, to physicist Viktor Adamsky, who helped design the Tsar Bomba — the most powerful nuclear weapon ever exploded. Stephen Shankland/CNET Military I spent more than five years as a reporter in Los Alamos, New Mexico, birthplace of the atomic bomb, home to a major national laboratory, and the 18,000-person town where I grew up. I covered everything from President Bill Clinton visiting the lab to mostly harmless radioactive cat poop triggering radiation alarms at the county landfill. But the story that made the biggest impression on me took place thousands of miles away, in Russia.In May 1995, I was part of a seven-person civilian delegation that traveled to Los Alamos sister city Sarov, about 230 miles east of Moscow. It’s the home of the institute where Russia developed its first atomic bomb. Our visit was timed to coincide with a 50th anniversary celebration of the end of the Great Patriotic War, aka World War II, which for the Russians ended when the Germans capitulated in May 1945.It was a sobering visit — the economic devastation; the Soviet-era microphones bugging away in our hotel; the angry and impoverished veterans; and the daunting quantities of vodka, champagne and cognac that accompanied us during a weeklong series of banquets. I spoke with Viktor Adamsky, one of the designers of the biggest nuclear bomb of all time, the 50-megaton Tsar Bomba, which was more powerful than all the bombs dropped in World War II.I’m remembering it now because I’ve recently interviewed Siegfried Hecker, former director of Los Alamos National Laboratory and a key leader of the US-Russian lab collaboration that led to my trip. Back when US-Russian relations were thawingDuring the time of my trip, relations between Russia and the US were warming, but now they’re cooling once again. That troubles Hecker — even though he spent much of his career designing the nuclear weapons the US aimed at the then-USSR.It troubles me, as well. I grew up during the Cold War, and I’m not eager to introduce my children to concepts like nuclear winter and megadeath. And even as treaties between the US and Russia fizzle out and the two countries rev up another arms race, worries are piling up about the nuclear weapons capabilities of Iran and North Korea, too.But Hecker stresses the similarities between the US and Russia — “They’re so much like us,” he says — and what was most interesting on my 1995 trip was the cultural connection between Los Alamos and Sarov. There was a clear kinship between the cities’ researchers — a curious camaraderie given that those very researchers designed the warheads perched atop ICBMs aimed at each other.A Russian in the nuclear weapons design city of Sarov in 1995 gave me this medal — the Order of the Badge of Honor — as a token of goodwill after the Cold War ended. The Soviet Union awarded the medal for achievements in labor, culture and science. Stephen Shankland/CNET Each city benefited from its government’s largesse during the Cold War. “When I first came here, I thought it was a paradise. Such food!” one Sarov man told me. Meanwhile, Los Alamos received a federal funding boost for its schools and its police and fire departments. Each city suffered when government funding dropped with the end of the Cold War. Both cities teem with elite researchers who play important military roles and are curious about what makes the universe tick. Both cities have nuclear weapons museums showing off the hulking casings of early bombs.Even the names of the cities had a parallel. When I visited, Sarov still went by its Cold War name of Arzamas-16 — a bit of geographic misdirection to make it look like it was part of a nothing-special city that actually is 30 miles northeast. During World War II, mail for Manhattan Project researchers in Los Alamos was addressed to P.O. Box 1663 in Santa Fe, about the same distance away from Los Alamos as Arzamas is from Sarov.Lab-to-lab collaborationMy trip was an outgrowth of the US-Russia nuclear collaboration undertaken by Hecker and his colleagues after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The effort, funded by the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, saw US and Russian scientists working on joint research and helping to get a grip on the vast quantities of Soviet-era nuclear weapons materials.I understood the political appeal of the program. For would-be terrorists or countries aspiring to join the nuclear weapons club, the hardest step is obtaining potent plutonium or weapons-grade uranium. Paying Russians to better control those materials — and to discourage scientists from looking for new jobs elsewhere — made sense for US foreign policy.Sarov, called Arzamas-16 during the Cold War, is home to a museum showing several historic Russian nuclear bombs. I’m second from left. Stephen Shankland/CNET But seeing Sarov firsthand showed me the human side of the program’s benefits.After the economic crisis that accompanied the demise of the USSR, Sarov residents had to grow potatoes in their window flower boxes and turn their countryside dachas into small farms. A typical scientist’s salary at the time was about $80 per month, as the ruble collapsed in value. Hardest hit by the end of the Cold War were elderly World War II veterans thrust back onto the job market after their pensions became worthless. The security fence around Sarov came to be enjoyed as a way to keep away the outsiders who’d had it even worse.Like Hecker, I visited Russians in their homes. After attending the World War II memorial around which our visit centered, I slipped off with some journalists from Sarov’s City Courier newspaper. They introduced me to their children, spoke of using surreptitious “samizdat” publications to disseminate information in the Soviet years, taught me how to spell my name in Cyrillic (Стѳфѳн Шѳнкланд), and told me how they cobbled together rafts for weeks-long descents of Siberian rivers. One gave me a present symbolic of US-Russian cooperation: a massive hand-cranked drill, made in Massachusetts but given to Russians in World War II and used during the German siege of Leningrad.In short, they showed me they were human.Personal connectionsI feel a more personal connection to Russia myself, too. In 1995, I met Boris Nemtsov, a reform-minded politician who then led the nearby Nizhny Novgorod (named Gorky in the Soviet era) region and earned a Ph.D. in physics. Among his policies was a “meter by meter” privatization push that let people gradually buy their apartments from the state. The discussion felt a lot more forward-looking than seeing Lenin’s waxy corpse in Moscow’s Red Square.Enlarge ImageSarov’s City Courier newspaper from 1995 chronicled the visit I and others from Los Alamos, New Mexico, paid to the Russian nuclear weapons design city. I’m in the center photo, showing the newspaper to some students. Stephen Shankland/CNET Nemtsov rose to become a national reform leader, willing to speak out against President Vladimir Putin. But in 2015, Nemtsov was assassinated on a bridge in Moscow. I felt it more closely than an “ordinary” episode of political violence.And I felt the same tie when five Sarov scientists were killed in a Russian missile test explosion this month.Hecker has a lot more of those connections. He’s friends with plenty of Russians and sees their cultural values as very similar to ours. And he’s keeping his communication links alive even though the US-Russia lab-to-lab collaboration project he helped begin is now all but dead. He’ll take his 57th trip to Russia in November.The two countries can move past sticking points like NATO’s eastward expansion and Russia’s military action in the Crimea and eastern Ukraine, Hecker says. Today’s nationalistic fervor might make it hard to defrost the relationship, but seeing the world from the other side’s perspective will help, he says.”There is absolutely no need for Russia and the US to be adversaries and enemies,” Hecker tells me. “Absolutely none.” 5 Sci-Tech Tags This story is part of Road Trip 2019, profiles of the troublemakers and trailblazers who are designing our future. Share your voice Comments
Kolkata: Two persons from Asansol and Burdwan were allegedly duped by two e-commerce websites, which sent them a stone and a torn shoe instead of the ordered products.According to sources, on June 28 a person identified as Pijush Kanti Mondal had ordered a pair of expensive sports shoes on an e-commerce website. On Saturday, a youth who was the delivery boy of that e-commerce site, reached Mondal’s home and delivered the product. Before paying the amount, Mondal opened the parcel and found a torn shoe and an empty bottle of soft drink. Immediately, he demanded an explanation and refused to pay the price. The delivery boy informed his superior about the incident. Also Read – Rs 13,000 crore investment to provide 2 lakh jobs: MamataLater, the delivery boy claimed that he had been instructed to click a picture of the packaged objects and take them back. But that did not convince Mondal. He thought that it was the work of the delivery person and thus detained him. After a while, the delivery boy was able to convince him that he and the courier partner to the e-commerce site had nothing to do with the debacle. On the other hand, a few days ago a person identified as Amlan Guha, a resident of Burdwan, was also allegedly duped by another e-commerce website. Also Read – Lightning kills 8, injures 16 in stateDuring the month of June, Guha had ordered two expensive smartphones on the e-commerce site. On July 3, he received the order and had already paid for it. However, when he opened the parcel, he found one smartphone. In the second packet, there was a piece of stone. Immediately, he informed the matter to the e-commerce site authorities but found no positive response. Guha later lodged a complaint at Burdwan police station in this regard.
Average speed cameras are being installed on the A500 between Hanchurch and Wolstanton (Image: (Photo by Joseph Raynor/ Nottingham Post)) It comes as drivers – who will face £100 fines – are already contending with narrow lanes and an extended 50mph limit during the D-road widening works between Etruria and Porthill. Read MoreWatch as driving instructor’s dash-cam captures TWO taxis jumping red lights in Stoke-on-Trent – in quick succession Highways England official Stuart Danks said: “The safety of all road users is our priority and while the majority of motorists stick to the 50mph speed limit the introduction of safety cameras along this route will help reduce accidents. “We thank motorists for their patience while work to install the cameras takes place. Any road closures will be overnight when we know the roads are quieter. Where possible, we will work on one carriageway at a time or with lane closures to minimise disruption while ensuring the safety of our workers.” Get the biggest Daily stories by emailSubscribeSee our privacy noticeThank you for subscribingSee our privacy noticeCould not subscribe, try again laterInvalid EmailSpeed cameras are to be installed along a five-mile stretch of the busy A500. Work starts today to install the average speed cameras at 12 locations along the 50mph stretch between the junction 15 M6 roundabout at Hanchurch and Wolstanton. The first phase focuses on the Hanchurch roundabout with every camera expected to be in place by December 20. The programme of work – which also includes bridge repairs and carriageway resurfacing – will lead to lane closures and some night-time full closures. Average speed cameras are being installed on this stretch of the A500 between Sideway and Hanford Latest figures show 3,263 drivers were caught speeding on the A500 between Etruria and Hanford in the 12 months to the end of August. The stretch between Hanford and Hanchurch is not routinely monitored because there are no bridges across the carriageway. Driving instructors and cabbies have welcomed the introduction of average speed cameras if they help reduce accidents. In 2013, the then North Staffordshire coroner Ian Smith called for them to be installed on the A500 after Staffordshire Police reported there had been 28 fatal accidents on the road over a 10-year period. There were 231 accidents on the A500 between 2014 and 2016, including nine fatal and 16 serious crashes. poll loadingShould average speed cameras be installed on the A500?1000+ VOTES SO FARYesNo Driving instructor Les Brigham, of Milton, said: “People need to recognise that speed cameras and extra road markings encourage a reduction of speed. They are often installed reactively. “One of the sayings in driver education is ‘the more paint the more danger’. The traffic markings and road signs tell a story of previous incidents. Wetley Rocks is a good example, lots of paint and lots of speed cameras tells us there had been far too many incidents in the Wetley Rocks area. Read MoreDon’t warn other drivers about police speed traps, you could get slapped with a fine “Average speed cameras on the A500 should be a good way to keep drivers safe by encouraging motorists to stay within the legal speed limit – and safer – for longer distances.” Stoke-on-Trent Private Hire Association chairman Sharaz Yaqub said: “Safety is paramount and if these speed cameras achieve that and reduce the number of casualties, then I’m all for it.” Read MoreTop stories on StokeonTrentLive Police search for missing woman Punter found hiding in bushes Dad slams ‘disgusting’ hospital window Driver named following fatal collision Follow StokeonTrentLive Download our app – You can download our free app for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or get the Android version from Google Play. Follow StokeonTrentLive on Facebook – Like our Facebook page to get the latest news in your feed and join in the lively discussions in the comments. Click here to give it a like! Follow us on Twitter – For breaking news and the latest stories, click here to follow SOTLive on Twitter. Follow us on Instagram – Featuring pictures past and present from across Stoke-on-Trent, North Staffordshire & South Cheshire – and if you tag us in your posts, we could repost your picture on our page! We also put the latest news in our Instagram Stories. Click here to follow StokeonTrentLive on Instagram.